Sunday, April 22, 2018

Crocus Smile, Year Five

It's time for the annual Crocus Smile art installation picture!  If you recall, just last week, it looked like this.  (Scroll down for picture.)  Now the snow has melted, and you can see the smile.

It's quite a bit later than last year, but also fuller.  (The spring before, I added some bulbs, and they appear to have survived to come up this spring.)

Year Four
Year Three
Year Two
The First Post

And it's way bigger than it was for the first couple of years.

In other exciting news, yesterday, I saw my first ever Purple Finches!  The top picture shows three males (one you can only see a bit of behind the feeder).  Birders always talk about male Purple Finches looking like they've been dipped in raspberry.  They're much redder than House Finches on the back and wings.  And they don't have dark stripes on their flanks as House finches do.  They also have notched tails, which House Finches don't.  (It's not the best picture as a picture, but it shows the important identification features I was looking at.)

 The next picture is a female, which is the same size, also has a notched tail, and has a serious light colored stripe above and below the eye.  It's way more streaky on the body, but the eye stripes are the field marker people point to.

In other birding news, I went to some friends' house for breakfast this morning; they live on a wooded lot next to a lake, and it's their first spring there.  It was glorious weather, and we saw all sorts of great birds.

I saw my first Red-Breasted Nuthatch not in-hand (I'd previously seen one that had been mist netted for banding at bird school last year).

We also saw Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers, including one that was sucking sap, so to speak.  It was monitoring three holes drilled closely together, and sucking sap from each in turn, all without moving more than it's head.

We may have seen a female Redstart or maybe it was a Yellow-Rumped Warbler (it was very grey, and seemed more grey with no real yellow markings, but...)

Also Mergansers, Buffleheads, Kingfisher, Bald eagle, Downy and Red-Bellied Woodpecker, Jays, Chickadees, Robins.  A very good morning!

I still have some Redpolls feeding on my deck, and a few Juncos, but the American Goldfinches are bright yellow now.  There are also Mourning Doves.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

That Time of the Term . . .

when alliteration hits.  Or not.

I met with a student this morning to talk about a paper that's due tomorrow.  The student had cancelled a meeting last week, when I was doing a second full round of conferences about the paper.  And they hadn't signed up for one the week before, despite my telling them it was required.

The draft they showed me, which they quite obviously thought I should be deeply impressed with, wasn't impressive.  It started in one direction, veered sharply to another direction, and then concluded in a pretty unrelated direction.  Any one of those directions would have been fine, but the veering made clear that the student hadn't paid attention to the assignment from the get go.

And now they've just emailed me that they won't be in class today, when we're discussing the final project, which counts for more than any previous project, because they're working on this paper.

I think they've finally figured out that they need to do more than fart around BSing in this course.

(Fortunately, there are revision opportunities.  Unfortunately, revision takes a good deal of time, and the student hasn't got a history of putting in time in this course.)

I have spring fever.  Badly.  There's no spring in sight here yet, though.

I need to grade.  And read.  And prep.  And what I really want to do is go out and play in some warm sunshine.  Unfortunately, there's no warmth outside anywhere near.

Four and a half more week.  Must end procrastination!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Rush Hour in the Great North Woods

This was my commute this morning.  I stopped for turkeys?  Why did they cross the road?  To strut their stuff!

In other news, the crocus smile has started.  It was up a bit before, but it's sort of more visible through the snow right now.  (Look for the bits of yellow.)

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Expletive Deleted

Our Local union president has contacted all the department and program chairs around campus and asked if we can send someone (or two) to a department/program meeting to talk about the union and gather some feedback.  We've done some, and mostly gotten good feedback, and a few new members.

The other day, the President asked who could make a meeting this week with basically last minute notice.  And it just so happens I can.  So I said I could, and that got me included in some emails from the department chair to the members of the department:
As you might recall from yesterday’s email, we will not have a faculty meeting tomorrow due to me being out of town.
A few weeks ago [Union Pres], representing the faculty staff union, requested time to talk to [the department] faculty/staff during a faculty meeting.  I did not grant that request because I want to guard faculty meeting time to discuss departmental business.  That said I do not want to apply my filter and position to block access to faculty/staff input on a variety of topics.  In looking for a win-win, [Bardiac] will be available to discuss issues the union deem important with interested faculty/staff at the time we would have met tomorrow.
I have to say, the tone of this sounds [expletive deleted].  Or is it just me?

So it's not a real meeting, and people were already told that they didn't need to be there (and so no doubt planned accordingly) and then they're told basically that the chair doesn't like the Union but doesn't want to "block access" so they can meet with me if they want.

I wonder if anyone will come, or if I'll just sit there alone in the meeting room wishing I were somewhere else?

(My experience with this person is that he's an [expletive deleted, expletive deleted] from other contexts.  No doubt, he thinks even worse of me.)

Monday, April 09, 2018

Level 3, Maybe Achieved

A couple of weeks ago I blogged a bit about our diversity training program.  Here's the way it looks.  At the first level, everyone is supposed to do a (really stupid and irritating) computer module thing on diversity.  I checked that off over the summer, I think, when we were supposed to.  (Some folks are still checking it off.)

The second level involves a variety of programs put on by various folks around campus, all of which are supposed to help us be more aware and helpful to students with what we might think of as diversity challenges.  (And to be clear, the challenges aren't the students, but rather that the systems impede or block some students, either because they're poorly designed, or because they're reflecting a history of racism, sexism, heteronormativity, elitism, ableism, and so forth.)

The success of these programs relies on folks actually wanting to learn something and wanting to make some changes, even small changes, to make things better for students (and colleagues, too!).

To be clear, once folks have done the computer Level 1 thingy, they can be done.  So the folks doing the Level 2 programs are all self-selected, and so perhaps a bit more sincerely interested.

There's also a Level 3.  Level 3 involves doing some project that relates what one's learned in the Level 2 programs to one's work here.  For a faculty member, it most logically involves either teaching or research.  And if you complete 10 Level 2 sessions and do a Level 3 project, then you get a certificate.  I'm not sure the certificate is really hugely meaningful, but hopefully the learning involved and the project actually are at least somewhat meaningful.

You're supposed to consult with one of the learning/teaching experts from that office when you've completed 4-5 Level 2 sessions, and then decide on and do a project.

So, in March, having completed enough sessions, I asked for a meeting, and met with one of the L/T experts.  She's a faculty member, and really good.  She said that some teachers change their curriculum to be more inclusive, so I said that I've changed my intro to lit a couple years ago to include all writers of color.  And I told her about using critical race theory in classes and my scholarly work.  So she said I was already pretty much ahead of the game.  And she suggested I look at some materials they had on increasing student engagement, and maybe make up a project based on something there.

So I looked, and I chatted with a smart friend who teaches high school.  And I came up with two things to try in my intro to lit course to increase student engagement.

The first involved using an app called "Padlet" which enables groups to put up a sort of virtual post-it note board.  We did that, and it was okay, until some students started putting up silly videos.  (I made the mistake of not making them add the app and so get a sign on, and thus, they were anonymous.)

But it was neat to try, and if people were really engaged and excited, it would work well, I think.

Then I tried having students in groups write a googledoc and then make it available to everyone.  And that worked really well, I thought.  One student suggested that if I made the google doc (and put the group work questions in), they could all edit at the same time and then would only have one big document to look at.  So that's what I'll do next time.

I actually really liked the way it worked, and that students who rarely talk in class contributed in the class discussion of their googledoc responses.

I have to get a bit more experience with googledocs to make one and invite folks to it (because I've never tried to do that before), but I suspect it's not too difficult to figure out the basics.

So I spent some time today writing that up, and filling out the form for the Level 3 project thing.  I still have some Level 2 programs to complete to finish 10, but I'm glad I did the project and learned something in the process.  (I sent it in today, and now am like an impatient student, waiting to hear if I "passed.")

Friday, April 06, 2018


You may remember that I was having my house painted.  Here are the colors I chose and some "before" pictures.  It's worth noting that the house didn't feel nearly as dark before I had new floors put in last spring.  But the new floors made everything feel darker.

Now here's how things turned out!

Or not quite.  This first picture shows the new yellow wall in the living room, but with the old green walls not yet white.

And here's the living room a bit later, with some furniture back in place, and late afternoon sun playing on the wall.

Here's the bedroom (with my neighbor's lovely dog who was visiting), only partly reconstituted.

 And the kitchen!

I can't decide which is my favorite, but PURPLE is surely up there.

This weekend, I'm putting art and such back on the walls, and moving things back into place.

(A bunch of my art is sitting on the office table in that last shot.)

In other good news, I was given a very nice "Feminist Faculty Service" award from our Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies group.  I'm not sure I'm the most deserving person, but I'm quite honored by the recognition.

And finally, one more piece of good news!  I get to start the second piece in Book 4 of Suzuki!  (I still need to work on the first piece, but I'm delighted to get to start the second!)

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Minor Turmoil

There's been some minor turmoil here; it's nothing that really affects me personally, but perhaps tangentially.

I'm disappointed in one of my colleagues, but not hugely.

I look around, and it looks like another colleague is shooting themselves in the metaphorical foot, followed closely by a second.